It’s been exactly two years since Jidenna arrived on the proverbial scene with his debut single “Classic Man,” and during those two years, we’ve been exposed to several different sides of his artistry.
Jidenna’s musical outings since “Classic Man” have vastly ranged in style, and through the seldom interviews he’s granted, it’s clear the Wisconsin-born artist has plenty to say. Although we’ve yet to see what he can do with the canvas that a full project would allow for, the loosies he’s dropped thus far have been incredibly promising, and there are some less tangible factors that lead me to believe he’s capable of greatness.
With his debut album The Chief arriving February 17, below are five reasons why you should be fairly hyped for Jidenna’s upcoming project.
1. Jidenna has proven he can excel in both pop/R&B and traditional rap.
While “Classic Man,” which was recently certified Platinum by the RIAA, is a pop-leaning anthem that capitalized on the synth-dominated DJ Mustard explosion that Iggy Azalea started with “Fancy,” the rest of Jidenna's musical offerings have showcased a versatile artist drawing influence from all over the globe and it turns out he can seriously spit, too.
I’ll admit I’m more of a fan of “Long Live The Chief” Jidenna than “Classic Man” or “Little Bit More” Jidenna, but if he can pull off a compelling balance of his multiple artistic sides, at the very least the project will be an entertaining listen.
2. Jidenna's got connections.
Not only can Jidenna lean on Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland Arts creative collective, but he also has Epic Records behind him. We’ve yet to see a tracklist for The Chief, but with a Quavo feature ("The Let Out") already in the books and a large network of talent at his disposal, there could be more than a few surprises in store.
3. Jidenna isn't afraid to get political.
As I just mentioned in a recent article, it’s always refreshing to see artists who have achieved mainstream success not shy away from delivering sociopolitical messages in their material. Throughout his brief catalog, as well as during rare interviews, Jidenna has made it clear that his awareness of the current climate is thorough. Not only that, but it’s not strictly relegated to the United States.
With a worldly mindset and a clear lyrical prowess, we could very well end up hearing some of 2017's most socially important verses on The Chief.
4. Jidenna's pool of influences is immense.
Based on his first two singles, it's clear Janelle Monáe and her incredible pop sensibilities have rubbed off on Jidenna. But on “Long Live The Chief,” it's Jidenna's hip-hop influences that shine through, a tip of the cap to major influencers like Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One.
It's also important to note that since Jidenna was born to Nigerian parents and actually lived in Nigeria off and on before relocating to the US at the age of six, the music of Nigeria, particularly the Highlife genre its birthed, has played a huge role in shaping his sound.
5. Jidenna's perspective is extremely unique.
In an interview with Billboard, Jidenna revealed that, in some ways, his album tells the story of a first generation Nigerian immigrant. According to the artist, The Chief is “going to be an album that makes waves on that platform.”
I want to give people the multiple dimensions that make me, as a man and as an artist. - Jidenna, Billboard
While the foundation of the project will be his experience growing up in two completely separate cultures, as well as being of Nigerian descent, his time spent living in cities like LA, Oakland, Brooklyn and Atlanta while working as a teacher will likely allow him to wrap his unique perspective in an accessible package—like we've already heard on a song like “Knickers.”
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram